Special teams captain. Pro Bowler. Safety. Motivator.
Those are just a few of the terms that one could use to describe the San Diego Chargers jack-of-all-trades Darrell Stuckey.
Stuckey was a nominee for the Walter Payton Man of the Year award last year. The honor was a direct result of his volunteerism not only in San Diego but also in his hometown of Kansas City. In Kansas City he conducts football camps, community projects and works with a non-profit organization called “Not For Sale”. The mission of Not For Sale is to protect people and communities from human trafficking and modern-day slavery.
The 5-foot-11 1/2, 212-pounder has been with San Diego since he was drafted in the fourth round (#110) of the 2010 draft. The former University of Kansas Jayhawk logged 295 career tackles, second-most all time behind Leroy Irvin (the former Rams/Lions defensive back). He also had eight interceptions and eleven tackles for loss in his four-year career there.
At the NFL Combine he clocked the 40-yard dash at 4.49 seconds. He also made a 39.5-inch vertical jump. His height may have been a bit of a concern, but the guy is a ball hawk.
In 73 games, Stuckey has 41 tackles to his name. Besides that, there are five defended passes, two forced fumbles and a sack. He also has five fumble recoveries, of which the best-known came on December 7, 2014 when New England’s wideout Brandon LaFell was hit by Jahleel Addae. Stuckey scooped up the ball and took it 60 yards to the house. It was the longest fumble recovery in Bolts history.
It’s no wonder that his play in the 2014 campaign resulted in his being voted to his first Pro Bowl appearance. His selection was initially as first alternate, however, he ended up joining then teammate Eric Weddle in Hawaii when Patriots player Matthew Slater had to bow out because New England was headed to the Super Bowl.
Those are all wonderful things to be able to be known for long after his football career is over. What seems to give Stuckey the most satisfaction in life is what he does off the field of play.
Being one of the most active Chargers players in the San Diego community is just a small part of who Darrell Stuckey is. He is a participant in the team’s annual “Community Corner” program, which purchases game tickets for charity. Additionally, he is involved with “Athletes for Charity”, a non-profit organization that is dedicated towards improving the lives of disadvantaged and underprivileged youth. In his hometown of Kansas City, he also dedicates his time to the Youth City Network and the KC United Dotte Football Camp.
Let me add just one more charity: Living4One. This organization was founded by Darrell and his wife, Lacie, in 2012. One of the reasons they created it is to assist individuals in recognizing that we each have a purpose in life and it is not solely our day-to-day existence.
To quote Stuckey from the Living4One webpage, their purpose is this: “We must discover our gifts and talents, perfect them, and incorporate them into the master plan. We all have a purpose to fulfill. Our purpose influences the people we are around in our workplace, team, family and community. We must use our gifts to better the world we live in. There is no greater joy than a purpose fulfilled.”
Stuckey is quite obviously a man who leads by example, whether on the field or in the community. His unpretentiousness and willingness to provide support for others in some of life’s most unfair and desperate times is refreshing.
Darrell Stuckey would certainly have my vote if fans could somehow publicly recognize his efforts once his playing days are over.
Take a bow, sir. You are a bright light in a sometimes unfair and discouraging world and I thank you for your selflessness.
Thanks for reading.
Chargers fans – the time has come to look past Eric Weddle and his signing last month with the Baltimore Ravens. Will it be difficult to replace his presence in the secondary? Perhaps. However, there is hope in the upcoming draft at the end of this month. That hope could be in the form of former UCLA Bruins linebacker Myles Jack.
Weight: 245 pounds
Arm Length: 33 5/8″*
Hand Size: 10 1/4″*
40 yard Dash: N/A
Vertical Jump: 40″**
Bench Press: 19 reps at 225 pounds*
Broad Jump: 10’4″**
*Combine Results (2/28/16)
**Pro Day Results (3/15/16)
Because Jack had not been cleared to run at the Combine, there are no times available for running drills. Still rehabbing his right knee due to the meniscus tear from last September, he also chose to not run at UCLA’s Pro Day.
Naturally strong and fast, an instinctive player. Athletic. Tremendous versatility evidenced by his performances as a former running back who converted to defense and can play inside/outside linebacker, corner or safety. This will make his on-field presence a boon to defensive coordinators, as he can be plugged in to many sub-packages. Has the strength, speed and athleticism to cover tight ends, running backs and some slot receivers. Energetic and can back-up linemen upon engagement..
His height could be a drawback when going up against taller TEs and WRs, but his long arms and large hands coupled with his athleticism should help bail him out. Inconsistent against the run, occasionally getting pushed off his blocks.
Jack could be the long-term solution at safety for the Bolts. His versatility at both linebacking positions, as well as corner, gives defensive coordinator John Pagano the opportunity to change things up against opposing offenses. Throw in his ability as a runner, especially at the goal line, for example, where fans have seen many tackles report as eligible, and perhaps the Chargers have another weapon in the arsenal.
Overall, if Telesco cannot draft defensive back Jalen Ramsey, selecting Myles Jack would be a solid addition.
Thanks for reading!
Anyone who has read my columns knows I am not a Ryan Mathews supporter. My columns on him have been critical to say the least and I still say he has deserved every bit of that criticism. I write on the behalf of many Chargers faithful who shudder every time we see him on the field, ailing from whatever phantom injury he always seems to be playing through or coming back from this time.
Then this season happened.
In my own defense, after seeing what the Chargers were doing after bringing in new GM Tom Telesco and new head coach Mike McCoy, I gave Mathews the benefit of the doubt. In my season predictions I wrote Mathews would have 1100 yards rushing, provided he could stay healthy. McCoy was implementing a ball-control, rhythm passing game utilizing Philip Rivers abilities with short passes and short drops to minimize the beating our franchise quarterback has suffered over the last few seasons.
Telesco brought in Danny Woodhead to play the quintessential safety valve for Rivers, something he hasn’t had since the departure of Darren Sproles. As a result, all Mathews had to do was take the ball and plow forward and hopefully gain positive yardage.
This season, Mathews exceeded all expectations. Mathews played all sixteen games for the first time in his career. His power running spearheaded the Chargers offensive attack the last quarter of the season. In addition to that, Mathews finished fifth in the NFL in rushing last season with a career-high 1255 yards rushing. Even the anti-Mathews contingent such as myself had to admit the man earned his money this season.
Until this past season, Mathews career in San Diego has been marred by a litany of injuries, turnovers and ineffectiveness on the field. For the man who was chosen to be the heir apparent to Ladainian Tomlinson, Mathews has given Chargers fans little reason to support him until this season.
This upcoming season is the last season on Mathews contract. The decision looms. Do the Chargers resign Mathews to a long term deal or let him loose in free agency? If Mathews can reproduce this season’s numbers the team would be moved to give Mathews a few more years in lightning bolts. Knowing Mathews history, it’s hard to put faith in the assumption Mathews can be as durable season in and season out as he was last season.
Marring Mathews banner season is his performance in the playoffs. Mathews timely running yielded an average of 4 yards per carry (13 carries for 52 yards, 2 receptions for 12 yards) in the Chargers wild card round win over the Bengals. In the divisional playoffs against Denver, Mathews was injured (again) and lost for the game after only five carries. In the biggest moment of Mathews career, against a juggernaut of a team like Denver who ended up representing the AFC in the Super Bowl, Mathews and the injury bug reunited and the Chargers fell in the end.
So what do the Chargers do?
What the Chargers do is play Mathews the same as they did last season. It took a quarter of the season for the coaching staff to decide how to use Mathews but after Mathews showed he could be trusted to carry the ball effectively he carried the ball a lot more and the Chargers went 4-1 in the last month of the season, entering the playoffs on a four game winning streak. Mathews entire body of work needs to be evaluated and a decision made based on that information.
The Chargers also need to draft a running back to be Mathews understudy this season. As a 2nd through 7th round pick, there will be no pressure to throw that player into the fire right away. He can learn the offense and get acclimated to the pro game from the sidelines. Knowing Mathews’ injury history, that player will most likely see field time in meaningful games before the season is out but it is a good situation for an incoming blue chip running back to be in.
Two names that jump to the forefront are Trey Mason from Auburn and James Wilder Jr. from Florida State. Their teams faced off for the 2013 NCAA National Championship. Wilder is declaring for the draft after his sophomore season. Wilder is slightly over 6’2 and 232 pounds at the NFL Combine. The fact that Wilder ran a poor 40 time (4.86) means his draft stock dropped into the middle rounds, perfect place to groom a future feature back. Wilder is a dynamic runner with little wear on the tires.
It is unlikely a running back will be taken in the first round but Tre Mason is at the top of the running back class this season. He may be viewed as undersized at 5’9 but many backs his size have succeeded. Mason posted a 4.5 in the 40-yard dash at the Combine but looks faster on the field. Mason is explosive as they come and he ran for over 1800 yards this season against the best conference in college football, the SEC. Seeing as how the Chargers draft at the bottom of every round, if Mason is still on board in the second round, picking him should be a lock. New GM Tom Telesco wants to increase team speed, and they don’t get much faster than Mason.
Other running backs are there for the taking in the middle rounds like Ohio State’s Carlos Hyde or De’Anthony Thomas of Oregon. The Chargers have room and time to groom the next full-time ball carrier instead of rushing him into the fray and potentially stumping his development. In the meantime, Mathews will have to put up or face free agency next offseason. The Chargers should find a stud back and cut ties with Mathews after next season. They need a back who is dependable and can be counted on in the payoffs. Mathews has not shown he is that guy.
The Chargers have made another step to solving this quandary when they signed Donald Brown on the first day of free agency. Brown was with Telesco in Indianapolis and despite only having five starts last season, led the Colts in rushing with 537 yards on 102 carries for a 5.3 yards per carry average and six touchdowns. Brown is also excellent catching the ball out of the backfield and unlike Mathews, understands pass protection and is proficient with it, unlike Mathews.
The Chargers signed Brown to a three-year deal so Telesco believes Brown has the skills to get the job done. Brown has had his own battles with nagging injuries but the Colts have always utilized him as a utility man, never in the feature back role until the failure of the Trent Richardson experiment last season. The Colts traded a first round pick for Richardson who then forgot how to run like he did in his rookie year when he amassed over 1000 yards and 10 touchdowns. Brown stepped into the feature role the last quarter of the season and Richardson was sent to the bench.
Mathews also addresses Telesco’s desire to improve team speed. Brown was a first round draft pick in 2009. At the 2009 Combine Brown posted a 4.46 in the 40-yard dash and has shown that speed on the field. The 5’10 back amassed 367 carries in his junior year at Connecticut, rushing for 2083 yards and 18 touchdowns. Those 367 carries are more than he has totaled in his last three seasons in the NFL, 344. The Chargers are already bringing in insurance for the likely scenario Mathews gets injured. Brown’s presence also allows the Chargers to trade Mathews instead of letting him walk as a free agent.
With Brown, do the Chargers still need to add a back in the draft? I say yes, especially if Mason is on the board in the second round. What say you Bolt Nation?
The Greg One